15 DAYS - EAST TO WEST BHUTAN
The ‘Journey Across Bhutan’ cultural tour is ideal for those who want to discover the true Bhutan. This ultimate tour explores the cultural valleys of the west, spiritual central Bhutan & the rugged east.
Explore Bhutan’s eastern and central valleys, rich with ancient historical and sacred Buddhist sites. Journey to the rugged, remote, seldom visited Eastern Districts of Trashigang, Mongar, and Lhuntse to the more frequently visited destinations of the Bumthang valley, Trongsa, Punakha, Thimphu, and Paro, each of which has its own attractions and stunning vistas.
Drive over high mountain passes affording sensational views of the Himalayan peaks. Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor. Marvel at the elaborate ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
This tour can also be done in the reverse direction, entering through Paro by air and exiting from Samdrup Jongkhar into the state of Assam in India for a connecting flight from Guwahati which is a two to three-hour drive from Samdrup Jongkhar.
15 DAYS - EAST WEST BHUTAN TRAVEL PACKAGE 9 NIGHTS/10 DAYS
DAY 01: SAMDRUP JONGKHAR
Our guide will receive you at Samdrup Jongkhar, bordering the Indian state of Assam.
Overnight at hotel in Samdrup Jongkhar (250m)
DAY 02: SAMDRUP JONGKHAR - TRASHIGANG (180km - 07hrs)
After an early breakfast, we embark on our journey into to Trashigang. 18km into our drive, we reach Dewathang where Jigme Namgyel, father to the first king of Bhutan, led Bhutanese troops into battle against the British in 1884. The place is now a major army cantonment. The drive continues on its spectacular course and offers a wide variety of landscapes, traversing sheer rock cliff face, quaint hamlets, through high passes before descending past the country’s first college and to the warmer valley of Trashigang. Places of interest on this route are the mithun(fine breed of bison) breeding farm at Orong; the single lane passage over Melong Brak(mirror cliff); the school for blind children and the handloom center at Khaling and; nyingma monasteries at Barshong and Yonphula.
Overnight at hotel in Trashigang (1070m)
DAY 03: TRASHIGANG
(Day Excursion to Merak Approx drive time – 5hrs drive time)Drive to Merak for an intimate insight into the lives of the tribes known as the Brokpas, a semi-nomadic people, whose way of dress is unique in Bhutan. Learn how this proud community, which forms a rich part of Bhutan’s ethnic diversity, has survived with its culture intact to this day. Brokpas inhabit some of the most rugged terrain in the country. Their economy depends heavily on yaks. And although Brokpas are gradually entering in the cash economy, a greater part of their livelihood still depends on ancient bartering practices.
DAY 04: TRAHIGANG - LHUNTSE (DRIVE 06hrs)
A short decent to the bridge, and drive along the Dangme Chu River – the biggest river in Bhutan with an abundance of lemon grass along the roadside. Tackle the famous zigzags up the hillside to Yadi, a fairly recent and now fast-growing settlement, and then ascend gradually through corn fields and banana groves to reach Kori La Pass (2450m) marked by a pretty Chorten and a Mani wall. From here, a short downhill drive through leafy forest filled with ferns to the town of Mongar.
Continuing our drive to Lhuntse, the landscape is spectacular, with stark cliffs towering above river gorges and dense coniferous forest. Lhuntse is one of the most isolated in Bhutan. The region is famous for its weavers, and their distinctive textiles are generally considered to be the best in the country.
Visit the newly built world’s tallest statue of Guru Rinpoche at Taki La in Tangmachu.The construction of the enormous statue of Guru Rinpoche in the form of Guru Nangsey Zilneon was initiated in 2008 without any funds but an abundance of faith, and was completed in 2016 with donations from devotees from within and outside the country.
This 148-foot bronze statue despite becoming the tallest statue of Guru Rinpoche in the world, it is also one of the most prominent structures in the Buddhist world, as well as a place of pilgrimage for devotees from all over the world, plus an attraction for the tourist visiting Eastern Bhutan – built to ensure continued peace in the world, stands high and handsome on the hillock overlooking Kurichu valley.
Overnight: Home stay at Bragong (2000m)
DAY 05: LHUNTSE - MONGAR (DRIVE 05hrs)
Before heading back to Mongar, drive north to explore Kurtoe region of Lhuntse and visit old Dungkhar palace, the ancestral home of Bhutan’s monarchy. On our way to Mongar, visit Lhuntse Dzong. Perched high on a hill overlooking the Kurichu valley, the dzong is one of the most picturesque in Bhutan.
Overnight: Hotel in Mongar (1600m)
DAY 06: MONGAR - BUMTHANG (DRIVE 07hrs)
Today’s drive is one of the most spectacular journeys in Bhutan and a treat for the nature lover. We pass over sheer cliffs, through fir forests and Bhutan’s highest motor-able pass – Thrumshing La (4,000m). There are countless varieties of rhododendrons and on clear days, we can even catch a glimpse of Gangkhar Puensum (7,541m) – the world’s highest unclimbed mountain. The villages of Sengor and Ura, and other hamlets enroute are all charmingly quaint.
Overnight at hotel in Jakar. 2700m
DAY 07: BUMTHANG
After several days of driving, spend a day in Bumthang, and enjoy the day exploring some of the many sights around Bumthang, the spiritual heart of Bhutan, including the very sacred Kurje Lhakhang and 7th century Jambay Lhakhang. Other places of interest are the Jakar dzong, Tamshing Lhakhang (1501) and a short drive to the pool of Mebartsho (lake of fire) where Pemalingpa (founder of the Nyingmapa sect) is said to have found treasure hidden by Guru Rinpoche.Overnight at hotel in Jakar. 2700m
DAY 08: BUMTHANG - THARPALING - TRONGSA (DRIVE/WALK 07hrs)
Drive to Trongsa and enroute hike to Tharpaling monastery along a scenic forest trail for about 3-hours, gradually climbing uphill to Tharpaling Monastery, an important monastery founded by Longchen Rambjam, a famous saint of Nyingma sect. Meet the vehicle and drive down to Chumey valley, and continue over Yotongla Pass to Trongsa (2hrs).
Upon arrival in Trongsa, visit Trongsa Dzong and the Tower of Trongsa Museum. In the evening stroll around the town. Overnight hotel in Trongsa.
Overnight at hotel in Trongsa (2200m)
DAY 09: TRONGSA - GANGTEY, PHOBJIKHA VALLEY (DRIVE 03hrs)
From Trongsa we drive past the beautiful 18thC Chendebji chorten and charming villages before crossing the Pele la pass (3,420m). A little further down the road, we detour up a winding road and over a high pass down into the picturesque Phobjikha valley. This is one of Bhutan’s few glacial valleys and the chosen home of the endangered bird species – black necked crane or grus nigricollis (Nov to Mar) migrating from the Tibetan plateau. Visit ancient Gangtey Gompa, one of the oldest Nyingma monasteries. Then stroll along the nature trail, a footpath encircling the winter roosting grounds of the crane for about two hours. When the cranes are not in residence, walk to local villages and also visit the Nature Info center.
DAY 10: GANGTEY - PUNAKHA (DRIVE 03hrs)
A short scenic drive down through ever changing vegetation brings us to the rice bowl of Bhutan. We pass the ruins of Wangduephodrang dzong and drive by the Punatsangchhu river on to Punakha – the ancient capital of Bhutan. The Punakha dzong is still the winter home of Je Khempo, head abbot of Bhutan, along with a retinue of 1,000 monks. Later we get opportunity to stretch our legs taking a short walk across rice paddies to Chimi Lhakhang, a fertility temple dedicated to Lam Drukpa Kuenley (1455 – 1529), popularly known as ‘the divine madman’ – folk hero and a cultural icon around whom countless yarns of fact and fiction, stories and legends have been spun.Overnight at hotel in Punakha valley (1300m).
DAY 11: PUNAKHA - DOCHULA - THIMPHU (DRIVE 05hrs)
Drive up from sub-tropical Punakha valley to Dochula pass (3,100m) in two hours. Weather permitting, enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Bhutan’s snowcapped peaks along the Tibetan border over tea and snacks at Dochula – after which we embark on a 2hr ridge hike to Lungchuzekha temple/retreat center. The trail is through rich vegetation of moss laden birch, hemlock and rhododendron, with excellent views of peaks and the valleys. Picnic lunch at the monastery, after which we walk 1hr downhill to another retreat and monastic center of Trashigang located on a hilltop, from where we meet our vehicle for the short drive to Thimphu, where we visit the great Tashichhodzong, and the giant Buddha statue as the sun sets in the valley.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu (2,400m)
DAY 12: THIMPHU
We have a full day to tour and visit the capital of Bhutan as per interests. Places of interest are Memorial Chorten, Takin Preserve, Zilukha nunnery, Traditional Art School, Hospital for traditional medicine, National Library, Textile Academy and Museum, Changlimithang ground where you may see Archery, Centennial farmers’ market, which is more vibrant over the weekend (Fri-Sun) or you can spend half day hiking to Cheri or Tango Monastery north of Thimphu. You can decide these activities with your guide when you are here.
Overnight at hotel in Thimphu (2,400m)
DAY 13: THIMPHU - PARO (DRIVE 01hr)
Visit Buddha Dordenma (Big Buddha) perched on a hill and enjoy panoramic views of Thimphu valley. If interested, take a 2 hour walk through the forests above Thimphu valley. After lunch, drive to Paro and visit Paro Dzong and the National Museum.
Overnight at hotel in Paro (2,300m)
DAY 14: PARO - TAKTSANG (Tiger's Nest)
After breakfast, head to Taktsang. Built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor, the monastery is a spectacular sight and an important pilgrim site for Buddhists.
As you will have covered more ground on foot and well acclimatized by now, we hope to take you bit beyond what regular tourists generally cover; that is to hike to the legendary Takstang (tiger’s nest) monastery and also to visit some of the temples higher-up like Zangdopelri and Ugyen Tsemo. This special hike beyond Taktsang provides a rare view of the Takstang monastery and also its surrounding temples, monasteries and hermitages. Return to Paro for farewell dinner.
Overnight at hotel in Paro (2,300m)
DAY 15: DEPART PARO
After breakfast, drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.
INCLUDED IN YOUR PACKAGE
Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
All private excursions and transfers in air-conditioned vehicle.
Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
Accommodation in government approved hotels & guesthouses.
All meals in Bhutan.
All entrance fees and permits.
NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR PACKAGE
Airfare to and from Bhutan
Bar expenses & other expenses of personal nature such as tipping
Expenses for additional activities such as biking, rafting , ponies etc